Our Family

Our Family

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: A Heart's Promise by Colleen Coble

Book Description :

A rival threatens Emmie's budding romance with Isaac. At Fort Laramie, soldier Isaac Liddle determines he will court and win Emmie Croftner's hand. Though courting seems improbable for a woman in her condition, Emmie begins to care deeply for Issac and chafes as Jessica Dubois sets her bonnet for him. When Jessica learns of Emmie's secret pregnancy, she blackmails her. With the Sioux Wars raging outside the safety of Fort Laramie, Emmie knows she cannot lose Isaac. But will he reject her-and her child-if he learns the truth?

A Heart's Promise is the 5th book in the Journey of the Heart series by Colleen Coble.  This was the author's first published series and has been recently re-released.  The books in this series are short, quick reads at only around 100 pages each.  The book follows the lives of Sarah, Rand, Amelia, Jacob, Emmie, and Isaac, along with some other minor characters as they travel and live in different army forts in the west shortly after the end of the Civil War.  I do not usually like to read books that re so short, I would rather read them all at once then have to wait for the next one to come out, but I have read every book so far in this series because I need to see how it all turns out.  In this story we are reintroduced to some previous characters and the plot takes a bit of turn which will be interesting to see how it all turns out.  I guess we will have to wait one more time for the last book!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Our Week In Review (June 22-27)

I was chatting with my sister in law the other day.  It had been very hot where she is in North Carolina, but so far in SW Arkansas we really had not been.  We have had a LOT more rain than usual over the last several weeks but had started drying up.  Well I spoke a little too soon because we did get into the upper 90's this week with heat indexes going up over 105.  To beat the heat, we try and get outdoors in the morning and then stay inside until after supper when they go swimming again.

Monday we had archery.  We have moved it to Monday mornings and practice between an hour and an hour and a half.

Tuesday morning we did some work in the garden.  It is growing very nicely but of course the weeds are growing as well.  The children do not mind pulling weeds.  They think it is fun :)  It seems like the fire ants are worse this year and I am constantly battling those nasty little creatures.

Wednesday we did not have anything special going on.  Just swimming and hanging out at home!

Thursday morning we had a 4 H Nature Walk and Talk Workshop.  It lasted from 9-10:40 or so.  We stopped by the playground for a little while, went to the library, met daddy for lunch, and did our grocery shopping for the week.  After that we stopped and picked up our new chickens.  We were down to 2 hens and two eggs a day just is not enough for us, so we bought 3 more.  One of our rabbits got out a few weeks ago and never returned, so Nick needed a new rabbit.  The family we bought the chickens from had some baby rabbits so we got one of those too.

Friday morning we had to do some rearranging of animal pens and I have to tell you it was hot already!!  Then we had an appointment in town and some errands I did not get completed the day before.  Friday nights are pizza and a movie nights which has been a tradition for about 8 years.

We did do some school as well this week.  Lily and I finished up the first folder for Andrea Carter's Tales From the Circle C Learning Lapbook.

Nick has been continuing to work on Cursive Logic.  That review will be coming soon.

Anthony and Christian completed lesson 24 in All About Reading Level 2.

We have been learning about Ancient Egypt.  We have been very busy this week working on Home School in the Woods Passport to Ancient Egypt.  This week we made some Egyptian accessories, mummies, and canopic jars and organs plus made a few items for our lapbook about these topics.

Happy Homeschooling!

*link to All About Reading is my affiliate link.  I only form affiliate relationships with companies whose products I actually use and can recommend!

Friday, June 26, 2015

4 H Nature Walk and Talk Workshop

One of the really nice things about our little community is that we have a really nice park.  It is very well kept up and they have expanded and added in things that have been needed for the community. One of the newest additions was a 1/2 mile nature trail and pavilion.  The trail is paved and there are signs throughout talking about the different habitats and what types of wildlife and plants are found there.

Yesterday, 4 H had a Nature Walk and Talk Workshop at the new nature trail.  I was so glad it was early in the morning and that the trail is mostly shaded because it was VERY hot yesterday!

Each of the children were given notebooks to use as a nature journal and a pencil.  At each of the stops along the trail, one of the teen leaders talked about the habitat and the different wildlife that was found there.  The children had an opportunity to sketch some of the things they saw.

We did not see very much wildlife.  We saw a few birds, some butterflies, spiders, and other insects.  We did not even see a squirrel or a rabbit!  But it was very hot and we were not especially quiet.  The children thought it was great just to see a rabbit burrow and the different plants, trees, and insects.

This little girl wanted me to carry her the last part of the trail, but I told her she was too heavy and I was too hot and we were very close to the end.  Big brother Nick came to her rescue though and carried her the rest of the way.

When we got back to the pavilion (after everyone got a drink!) we talked about another habitat, soil, and the different layers it has.  Then they made a snack to help them remember the different layers of soil.  We have made dirt cake snacks before but this one was a little different.  It used cereal for the bedrock, pudding for the subsoil, and whipped cream for the topsoil.  Of course they had some worms in it and then sprinkles on top for wildflowers.

We had a great time at the workshop!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Circle C Adventures

I love Susan K. Marlow's books!  I am always very excited to have an opportunity to review one of her books and was delighted to be chosen to read and review Tales From the Circle C Ranch along with Andrea Carter's Tales From the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook from Circle C Adventures.
Tales of the Circle C Ranch Bookk Review

Susan K. Marlow is a 20 year homeschooling veteran and an author.  Andrea Carter is the main character in her Circle C Beginnings (6 year old Andi), Circle C Adventures (12 year old Andi), and Circle C Milestones (14 year old Andi) series.  Tales From the Circle C Ranch ($7.99) is a short story collection that was inspired by fans' questions.  It is split into two parts: The Early Years and The In Between Years.  The Early Years has 4 different stories: Britches Are Not For Little Girls,  The Best Gift of All, Aunt Rebecca and the Hat, and White Christmas.  It starts off in 1873 before Circle C Beginnings and ends in 1878 before Circle C Adventures.  The In Between Years has 7 stories : Prince Loco, Chad's Crazy Horse, Hurrah For the 4th of July, A Matter of Honor, Snakes Alive!, Virginia's Riding Lesson, Where the Trees Meet the Bay, and Adios Jeffrey Sullivan.  It starts in June 1880 after Andrea and the Long Ride Home and ends in 1881.  These stories fill in the blanks about some of the things that happen in the series such as why and when Andi is allowed to wear overalls, and if she succeeds in getting rid of Melinda's beau, Jeffrey Sullivan.  We also get to meet Andi's father and visit her friend Jenny in Washington Territory.

Download and read the first story.

Tales of the Circle C Ranch Bookk Review
Andrea Carter's Tales From the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook with study guide is a 2 folder lapbbok.  Directions are given for folding and assembling the lapbook and a key to placing the mini books is provided.  A page of informative text is included for each topic plus a mini book to complete.  Topics covered in the lapbook relate to the stories in the book.  Lapbook topics include: Book Information, Britches, Dresses, and Overalls, An 1800s General Store, History of Photography, Jingle Bells, Blizzards, State Fairs, History of Fireworks, Limericks, California King Snake, Saddles, Pacific Coast States, Crabs, Visiting Cards, The Apothecary Shop, and the Five Elements of a Story. The lapbook is available already printed out for you ($12), or as an ebook that you print yourself ($7.)

As I said above, I love books by Susan K. Marlow.  It can be hard to find good, wholesome books for our children to read, but I know that any book by Susan K. Marlow will not have any objectionable content and will also be good stories with a positive message.  I am reading aloud the Circle C Beginnings series to my 6 year old daughter with my 4 year old listening in as well, so I thought they would enjoy Tales from the Circle C Ranch.  I read aloud the stories from Part 1 to them and then finished the rest of the book myself.  We also completed the first folder of the lapbook.

The girls and I really enjoyed the stories from Tales From the Circle C Ranch.  I will admit to crying a bit when I read The Best Gift of All.  We definitely had some laughs reading Aunt Rebecca and the Hat and would have reacted the same as Lucy in Snakes Alive!  These little short stories are great for Andi fans especially as they do fill in some of the details that we didn't learn in the books, but also would be enjoyable for those who like short stories or stories that take place during the 1800's.

the lapbook is in color but my printer is black and white only

We love lapbooks and A Journey Through Learning is one of my favorite companies.  The included study guides and mini books turn a topic covered in the book into a learning experience that your child will remember. My children (not just the girls but the younger boys as well) were fascinated by the Britches Are Not For Little Girls section.  They could not believe all the photos were boys!

I would highly recommend any books by Susan K. Marlow.  While the Andi books are geared more towards girls, she also writes a series called Goldtown Adventures that is great for boys!

Stop by the Crew Blog to see what my Crew Mates had to say!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Schoolhouse Crew Review: SmartKidz Media

SmartKidz Media Review

Our latest review has been a year's subscription to the SmartKidz Media Library For Homeschoolers from SmartKidz Media.

The SmartKidz Media Library For Homeschoolers is a subscription based website with options to pay by the month ($10) or by the year ($99.)  There is a wide variety of different media available for use in your homeschool.

The largest section is the World of Discovery which contains videos arranged in different categories and has several videos in each category.  Categories include:

Animal and Wildlife Collection 1, 2, and 3
Animals and Wildlife : Magic of Nature Parts 1 and 2
Animals and Wildlife: Wonderful World Part 1
Documentaries and Culture: Collections 1 and 2
Documentaries and Culture: Miracles of Nature Vol 1
Health and Fitness
History: World War II
History: Stalemate-The Cold War
Lifestyle and Cuisine
Travel and Adventure : World Wide Discovery Parts 1 and 2
US History (coming soon)
Action Sports (coming soon)

Fine Arts contains a few videos and also music collections in the following categories:

Fine Arts
Classical Music Vol 1 and 2
Cultural Music Vol 1 and 2
Jazz and Blues Classics Vol 1 and 2
Relaxation Music Vol 1 and 2

The Flash Animated ebook Collection entertains children while promoting literacy.  The text is highlighted as the words are read allowing children to read along with the story.  This collection is  arranged in categories such as:

Story Songs
Classic Collections 1 and 2
Ages 2-4
Ages 4-6
Ages 6-8
Bible Stories and Songs
Classic Sing Along Songs

Quick Study Guides has definitions, rules, and examples in categories such as:

Shakespeare's Language Arts Basics
Newton's Genius Math Basics Level 1 and 2
Einstein's Genius Science Basics
Ben Franklin's Social Studies Basics

With more coming soon.

In addition to these there is a Sign Language Collection, Special Needs Learning, Living Skills, Ready Set Sing, Fun Zone, and My Animal Family.

SmartKidz Media offers a 14 day free trial that allows you to sample everything they have available in their Media Library for Homeschoolers.  The Media Library can be viewed on a variety of devices such as PC, MAC, iPad, tablets, smart phones, and some models of Roku.  Your device has to be able to access the internet.

Over the last several weeks I have been many different selections from the Media Library.  We used SmartKidz Media primarily on my laptop but did use an iPad a few times as well.  My children and I have watched videos from the World of Discovery section, listened to Classical Music from the Fine Arts section, and viewed animated ebooks.  Our favorite section is one called My Animal Family.  In this section there is a selection of videos called My Animal Family Video Storybook, My Animal Family Fun Facts, and My Animal Family Story Songs.  My children and I loved these videos.

There are no ads, pop ups, or exterior links in the Media Library.  All of the selections are on the website.  SmartKidz Media is the producer and distributor of all of the content and strives to make sure it is not only educational but entertaining as well.  The selections are arranged in a way that makes it very easy to find topics you are looking for.  Even with our slow internet connection we were able to load and play the selections without any problems.

The videos are documentary style and show realistic happenings in nature and the world.  I would recommend viewing ahead of time if there are things that you may be concerned about or that your children may be bothered by.  A few of the animal ones we watched showed animals consuming their prey and baby animals dying.  This was fine for my boys (8,9,11,13) but my girls (4,6) would have been bothered by it.  Also, there were evolutionary references in some of the videos we viewed, so you may want to preview if that is a concern for your family.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, head on over to the Crew Blog!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Quick and Easy Ice Cream Cake

Several weeks ago, I found and pinned a few recipes for homemade ice cream cake.  I had thought I would make one for Anthony for his birthday next month, but he decided he would rather have cupcakes so I made it for Father's Day instead.  This ice cream cake was so easy to make, and did not take long at all.  It also tasted really good and cost under $10.


I box of brownie mix of your choice (plus what that recipe calls for)
1 package oreo cookies (does not have to be name brand)
1 container cool whip
Chocolate Syrup
1 box of ice cream sandwiches

First, make your brownie mix according to the directions on the box and pour it into a greased 13x9 pan.  Bake according to directions.  Allow to cool slightly and then press brownies down to form a crust.  Let brownies finish cooling completely.

After brownies are cooled, spread half the container of cool whip over top.  Drizzle a good amount of chocolate syrup over that.  Crush around 20 oreo cookies in a plastic bag and sprinkle over top of syrup, reserving a small amount for sprinkling over the top of the cake.  Now cut your ice cream sandwiches in half and put them over top of the cookies.  I had one and a half sandwiches left over but children were very willing to eat those ;)  Spread the rest of your cool whip over top.  I wrote Happy Father's Day using the chocolate syrup (it came out a bit messy) and sprinkle your remaining cookies.  Cover and freeze until firm.

Before serving, I would allow the cake to sit out for 15-20 min so it will be easier to cut and serve. My family loved this cake!  I will be making it again soon.

I found the recipe here.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Review: Intro to Archaeology and Geology Curriculum Pack

I discovered Master Books a few years ago and was so impressed with their curriculum.  Their books had everything I was looking for: creation based, good information, and awesome photos and graphics.  We purchased several books for our homeschool and have enjoyed looking through them and using them as references for topics we have been studying.  One thing I had wished for though was lesson plans and worksheets to be able to use these wonderful books as a curriculum.  I was excited to see that Master Books now has both subject sets and full year curriculum for many different grade levels that include Parent Lesson Planners.  I was delighted to have an opportunity to review part of their 8th Grade Curriculum SetIntro to Archaeology and Geology Curriculum Pack.

The Intro to Archaeology and Geology Curriculum Pack includes:

The Archaeology Book

The Archaeology Book is a 96 page hardcover book by David Down.  This illustrated book has 11 chapters:

1. What Archaeology is All About
2. Land of Egypt
3. The Hittites
4. Ur of the Chaldees
5. Assyria
6. Babylon: City of Gold
7. Persia
8. Petra
9. The Phoenicians
10. The Dead Sea Scrolls
11. Israel

There are also instructions on how to use the book and a glossary in the back.  The book also contains a pull out poster of Petra.

The Geology Book

The Geology Book is an 80 page hardcover book by Dr. John D. Morris.  This illustrated book has 8 chapters:

1. Planet Earth
2. The Ground We Stand Upon
3. The Earth's Surface
4. Geological Processes and Rates
5. Ways to Date the Entire Earth
6. Great Geological Events of the Past
7. Questions People Ask
8. The Future Earth

The book also contains a Bibliography, Glossary, and Index and also a fold out poster entitled When the Earth Moves.

Intro to Archaeology and Geology Parent Lesson Planner

This is a softcover 114 page paper back book.  The book has perforated 3 hole punch pages for easy removal.  Inside you will find a weekly lesson schedule, student worksheets, quizzes and tests, and answer keys.  The weekly schedule lists 2-3 lessons per week with a combination of reading, worksheets, and activities for each of the 36 weeks. Each lesson lasts approximately 30-45 minutes.  There is a worksheet for each chapter and quizzes covering 2-3 chapters.

You can purchase the Intro to Archaeology and Geology Curriculum Pack for $34.02.

I already mentioned how much I love boos from Master Books.  It can be very hard to find creation based science books especially in the area of earth science.  Everything from Master Books is creation based. That is not to say that evolutionary views are not discussed.  The Geology Book looks at uniformity and catastrophe and and compares the two views of earth's history to see which one makes more sense.  The Archaeology Book discusses the different time periods and secular dates. But these books give glory to God as our creator and view the Bible as an accurate historical document. The text is easy to read and understand and the books are full of charts, illustrations, diagrams, and photographs.

In this set, Archaeology is studied the first semester and geology the 2nd semester.  Lessons in the suggested daily schedule are numbered rather than assigned to days of the week.  In my opinion this makes planning easier if you happen to need to miss a day or if you (like me) or have school 4 days per week.  It is also only a suggested way to break up the lessons, homeschooling gives you the freedom to make changes depending on what works best for your schedule.

Each lesson has a list of words to define, questions to answer, and activities.  I was pleased to see a variety of activities included rather than just basic questions and answers.  Some of the activities were "hands on" type activities such as making fossils, starting a rock collection, making bricks, etc.. while others are more research type activities such as making a chart of your ancestry, researching the ancient Hittite civilization, researching the Bible account of the flood and more.

Answers to the questions , tests, and quizzes are included in the PLP.  Some may not think it is a good idea to have the questions and answers all in the same book.  But, the pages are perforated for easy removal and can be slipped into a 3 ring binder easily for your student.  Also Master Books allows copying within families so you can make copies if you have more than one child in or around the 7-9th grade age range that you wish to use it with.

The Parent Lesson Planner states that this one year course is worth half a credit for 7-9th graders.  In my opinion it would be a great science course for 7 or 8th graders or an elective course for 9th graders. If additional research and lab work was added in for a 9th grader, it could be turned into a full credit course depending on the amount of time spent working in the course.

I am so glad that Master Books took an already amazing product and made it even better.  I can't wait to see some of the subject sets they have available for 4th-12 th grade in the areas of History, Math, Grammar and Literature, Science and electives.  Full grade sets are also available for grades Pre-K, and 4-12th grade.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this curriculum pack for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.